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In depth look at the team

I wanted to continue looking at the roster...I want to break down the QBs and what I see from them.

Starter:
Shaun Hill

Is this the starter of the future? I don't know that he is, but I also don't know that he isn't. One thing that always works is when the head coach and the QB are similar. Example, Montana and Walsh saw football in much of the same way. Both wanted to innovate how the passing game could be used to slowly pick apart defenses much in the same way that a running game is used to wear them down. Brady and Billicik approach the game very similarly, and Billichik has often referenced how having Brady out there is like having himself in the huddle. Etc, etc, etc. Hill isn't the most talented guy, but neither was Singletary. Both Sing and Hill are classing overachievers who play harder and with more heart than the other 21 guys on the field. I think too much has been made of him "weak" arm, and not enough credit has been given to his athleticism, which surfaces itself when a play breaks down. He may have the worst long ball in the game, but his quick release, vision, ability to improvise, pocket presence, and exceptional command of the short passing game makes him an interesting option. However, it's his ability to sustain LOOOONG drives, that I believe makes him the right person to manage this run (Gore) oriented offense.

Backups:
Damon Huard
Not much to say about this guy. Can probably come in and win .500 in a short season. May be here next year, maybe not.

Alex Smith
I apologize to all the Alex supporters, but I'm not a fan. Watching him this pre-season confirms everything I've thought. He has horrific pocket presence, and for some odd reason always escapes from the pocket into a defender. He is just now learning to step up in his throws. He uses his strong arm to his disadvantage--throwing hard to catch bullets to avg receivers (Davis) who need the ball placed between the #s to make the catch--rather than to his advantage--such as completing passes across his body, as he rolls out to the right. He cannot sustain drives, and is the kind of 3-and-outs. Maybe if he had a Payton Manning like deep ball I can overlook some of these things, but the fact is, his deep throws are OK, not mind blowing. He needs to play behind a line that doesn't give up pressures, with receivers that can catch anythign within a 10 yard radius in order to be successful. Much like Mike Martz, this guy simply doesn't have it in him to do more with less.

Nate Davis
Perhaps the most interesting QB on the roster--and here is why: Was he drafted to be a backup? Probably not, my guess is that he was drafted because he has a high ceiling. The problem is that he needs at least 2 years until we're able to get an accurate read--sorry, but 6 completions against the Raiders 3rd stringers will not suffice. So what happens if Hill doesn't perform? What do we do with 2 first round picks (at least one of which will be high if Hill fails)? Will we pass on McCoy or Bradford (who I really don't like) because we're waiting for Davis to develop? Or will we spend up to 2 first round picks on a QB, when we just drafted a guy who the coaches think could develop into a legitimate starter? Getting a read on Davis in practices and these next 2 pre season games should be a considerable task for the coaching staff. Overall I think the kid has skills. I like his size, ability to avoid the sack, and ability to throw completions on the run. Now lets see him do this against legitimate competition.

Overall the QBs are a HUGE question mark. I like Hill, but I just can't commit to him as our starter of the future with such a short resume. Davis? Don't be surprised if he, not Hill, is the reason we pass on a QB next April. Huard, is really just insurance, and Alex Smith will not be back with the team unless he's called upon at some point during the season and performs well. That's WELL, not badly with excuses. Not 4.2 passer rating, but an excuse of dropped passes. Not 11 picks but an excuse of a bad line. He needs to perform well to be back, and I just don't see that happening--even if he does get some starts this season.

I think now with the season less than a month away is a good time to take an in-depth look at the roster. I will start with just one position, and add to it with time. I want to start with the offensive line. Talk about what I think of each player, who I think will be here long term, and what I see of the line.

LT: Joe Staley
We are probably set here for the next decade. Joe Staley is young, athletic, decently strong, and most importantly, durable. Coming out of college it was believed that Staley's best football is still ahead of him. I believe that. Last year was a growing curve, and this year I think we can expect very good things from him. Is he a future perennial pro-bowler? Probably not. Will he be in the pro-bowl? He could be, maybe even a few times in his career if all goes his way and he stays healthy. He will not be one of the great LTs in the league, but he will be a very good player for a very long time. What's nice about Staley is he's big enough to be a part of a big power line, and athletic enough to be a part of a quick athletic line. In our system he plays the role of the big guy pushing ahead for the RB.

LG: Cody Wallace? Draft Pick? FA?
David Baas was born to look the part. Big, monstrously strong, and highly regarded coming out of college, Baas also happens to be slow and clumsy. Our line is built on size, but there is also quite a bit of athleticism (Staley, Rachal, even Heitman), Baas is the exception. But above all else, the guy is just injury prone. This line's best chance for success is by finding consistency. Due to this, durability is a requirement for anyone looking to be a long term starter. Baas is not the guy. He may get the start this year, but don't count on his contract being extended. Wragge is a guy I like quite a bit, but its obvious that he's not athletic enough to be counted on as the full-time starter. The team doesn't seem to think so either, and likely see him as a good backup. This leaves us with a hole at LG. Since most of the line will be coming into their primes by this year and next year, it doesn't seem to me that a rookie is the best idea. If there is a polished senior who is ready to come in and play that may change my mind. A FA could make sense as well. However, right now I'm curious about Wallace. We drafted him in the 4th. He'll be a 3rd year vet next year, and he's had experience with this line already. Can he make the jump to starter? This is clearly the weak link.

C: Eric Heitman
People either love him or hate him. I believe he's a good player. He doesn't have the most upside on our team, but as of now may be our best lineman. He's not as young as some of the other guys, but can play for a good few more years. I think our line will gain strength with Heitman as its anchor. Wragge is a strong backup at this position, and may be the eventual heir to the position.

RG: Chilo Rachal
I was really happy with this pick. If not for Chilo, we would have a huge question at both guard spots. Right now Chilo is raw and is prone to mistakes, however he is progressing well, and may one day reach his potential. Just like Staley, Rachal has size and immense athletic ability. If he ever reaches his potential, Rachal can be one of the premier guards in the league, and a Larry Allen - like force in the middle. For now he is still very effective based oh his natural gifts alone.

RT: Adam Snyder
I was hoping Snyder proves that he can handle this spot, and I think he's about to. Probably the least athletic, and the biggest lineman on our team, Snyder can only be fully effective at RT. Even though he can play 4 spots on the line, I believe his best fit is RT. Two years ago I predicted Snyder as our RT of the future. The team tried shoving him at LG because he looked the part, but he never fully adjusted to playing in a box. When he played T we actually got descent production out of him. Now with time to develop, Snyder can become an effective starter. Along with Staley and Rachal, Snyder should be fully maturing in his position by next year.

This line will succeed and fail on consistency. The good news is that we have 4 spots set, with solid to very good players, who have been together for some time, and will be in the prime of their careers at around the same time. The bad news is that there isn't a superstar in the group yet, and for the exception of Chilo, there might not be anyone with superstar potential (all though Staley could be very very good). If the transition of our future LG is made mostly seamlessly, and injuries don't offset the flow of things, I think this line can gel in much the same way the Giant's line did. This is a group built for run blocking, and will be asked to do just that. Bring in the Martz 7-step drop and this line will fail horribly, but ask them to manage a power running offense, and they may just be able to excel.
[ Edited by RollinWith21n52 on Aug 25, 2009 at 10:18 PM ]
Great post! I agree & hope we can get LG spot taking care of soon.
I think Baas is a solid player, but not spectacular. But he is a goner if he is offer a lot of money by another team. I would love to see the 49ers draft a big guard that can pull for the left side.
Originally posted by jta854:
I think Baas is a solid player, but not spectacular. But he is a goner if he is offer a lot of money by another team. I would love to see the 49ers draft a big guard that can pull for the left side.

Even if his play picks up and he doesn't want a big contract, I still am very worried about his injuries
Originally posted by RollinWith21n52:
Originally posted by jta854:
I think Baas is a solid player, but not spectacular. But he is a goner if he is offer a lot of money by another team. I would love to see the 49ers draft a big guard that can pull for the left side.

Even if his play picks up and he doesn't want a big contract, I still am very worried about his injuries

Injuries are some times just plain bad luck (Frank Gore at Miami). But I agree with you that it is something to worry about.
Very good post. I'm an old school guy who believes the wars are won in the trenches - Oline & Dline.

I completely agree w/ you about Bass. He has done absolutley nothing to impress, just mediocre.

Looks like Snyder is going to work out weell at RT. I hope we can develop Boone.

Hietmann is rock solid and we'll need to develop someone in a year or two.

Looking forward to your Dline comments.

Go Niners!
After one game looks like the interior zone blocking run scheme the Niners switched to will make the line look better, Gore should do very well.

Pass blocking looked like it needs work, especially the left side although some improvement in blitz pickups by our backup RB's would have helped.
Only the ding-dongs hate Heitmann (even though he was the best lineman on the team last year), so it not even worthy putting on your review. I'd edit that right out.

You might want to include some of the backups fighting for a spot on the team. How about:
1) Barry Sims- with one M. Possibly the most evil person to put on a Niners jersey since Derek Smith or Kwame Harris. Only a handful of terrible people think he will make the team, including MD. Yikes!! Run for the hills!!

2) Alex Boone- One of the greatest players in the modern NFL. Future starter and ten time Pro-Bowler.

3) Jacob Bender- Would be a much better player if he changed his name to Zeigler or Clayton or Lelie. Unfortunately, he stubbornly insists on keeping his current name.

Cheers.

P.S. I'll be hosting the first annual 49ers Webzone Spelling Bee soon. Some words for the board to work on (we'll start with the tough four letter words first): Sims, Baas. I told you they were tough! We will then increasingly move to MENSA level words: Heitmann, Zeigler.

I promise to not include former 49ers player: Babatunde Oshinowo. However, his roster replacement Chris Francies is fair game.
[ Edited by MadDog49er on Aug 20, 2009 at 9:44 AM ]
Originally posted by RollinWith21n52:
I think now with the season less than a month away is a good time to take an in-depth look at the roster. I will start with just one position, and add to it with time. I want to start with the offensive line. Talk about what I think of each player, who I think will be here long term, and what I see of the line.

LT: Joe Staley
We are probably set here for the next decade. Joe Staley is young, athletic, decently strong, and most importantly, durable. Coming out of college it was believed that Staley's best football is still ahead of him. I believe that. Last year was a growing curve, and this year I think we can expect very good things from him. Is he a future perennial pro-bowler? Probably not. Will he be in the pro-bowl? He could be, maybe even a few times in his career if all goes his way and he stays healthy. He will not be one of the great LTs in the league, but he will be a very good player for a very long time. What's nice about Staley is he's big enough to be a part of a big power line, and athletic enough to be a part of a quick athletic line. In our system he plays the role of the big guy pushing ahead for the RB.

LG: Cody Wallace? Draft Pick? FA?
David Baas was born to look the part. Big, monstrously strong, and highly regarded coming out of college, Baas also happens to be slow and clumsy. Our line is built on size, but there is also quite a bit of athleticism (Staley, Rachal, even Heitman), Baas is the exception. But above all else, the guy is just injury prone. This line's best chance for success is by finding consistency. Due to this, durability is a requirement for anyone looking to be a long term starter. Baas is not the guy. He may get the start this year, but don't count on his contract being extended. Wragge is a guy I like quite a bit, but its obvious that he's not athletic enough to be counted on as the full-time starter. The team doesn't seem to think so either, and likely see him as a good backup. This leaves us with a hole at LG. Since most of the line will be coming into their primes by this year and next year, it doesn't seem to me that a rookie is the best idea. If there is a polished senior who is ready to come in and play that may change my mind. A FA could make sense as well. However, right now I'm curious about Wallace. We drafted him in the 4th. He'll be a 3rd year vet next year, and he's had experience with this line already. Can he make the jump to starter? This is clearly the weak link.

C: Eric Heitman
People either love him or hate him. I believe he's a good player. He doesn't have the most upside on our team, but as of now may be our best lineman. He's not as young as some of the other guys, but can play for a good few more years. I think our line will gain strength with Heitman as its anchor. Wragge is a strong backup at this position, and may be the eventual heir to the position.

RG: Chilo Rachal
I was really happy with this pick. If not for Chilo, we would have a huge question at both guard spots. Right now Chilo is raw and is prone to mistakes, however he is progressing well, and may one day reach his potential. Just like Staley, Rachal has size and immense athletic ability. If he ever reaches his potential, Rachal can be one of the premier guards in the league, and a Larry Allen - like force in the middle. For now he is still very effective based oh his natural gifts alone.

RT: Adam Snyder
I was hoping Snyder proves that he can handle this spot, and I think he's about to. Probably the least athletic, and the biggest lineman on our team, Snyder can only be fully effective at RT. Even though he can play 4 spots on the line, I believe his best fit is RT. Two years ago I predicted Snyder as our RT of the future. The team tried shoving him at LG because he looked the part, but he never fully adjusted to playing in a box. When he played T we actually got descent production out of him. Now with time to develop, Snyder can become an effective starter. Along with Staley and Rachal, Snyder should be fully maturing in his position by next year.

This line will succeed and fail on consistency. The good news is that we have 4 spots set, with solid to very good players, who have been together for some time, and will be in the prime of their careers at around the same time. The bad news is that there isn't a superstar in the group yet, and for the exception of Chilo, there might not be anyone with superstar potential (all though Staley could be very very good). If the transition of our future LG is made mostly seamlessly, and injuries don't offset the flow of things, I think this line can gel in much the same way the Giant's line did. This is a group built for run blocking, and will be asked to do just that. Bring in the Martz 7-step drop and this line will fail horribly, but ask them to manage a power running offense, and they may just be able to excel.

You have "Cody Wallace" at left guard.... make correction to David Baas

By the way... I think this season David Baas validates he is a "beast"
Originally posted by MadDog49er:


P.S. I'll be hosting the first annual 49ers Webzone Spelling Bee soon. Some words for the board to work on (we'll start with the tough four letter words first): Sims, Baas. I told you they were tough! We will then increasingly move to MENSA level words: Heitmann, Zeigler.

I promise to not include former 49ers player: Babatunde Oshinowo. However, his roster replacement Chris Francies is fair game.

Awesome! Will it include Tony "Manderich?"

LINK!

You live by the sword, MD . . .

true dat!
Baas is suspect. extremly. upside? downside? too inconsistant. LG is weak for us. Synder will get it down. I thought we should've drafted a tackle. no my thoughts were right. we should've.
Originally posted by NineFourNiner:
Originally posted by MadDog49er:


P.S. I'll be hosting the first annual 49ers Webzone Spelling Bee soon. Some words for the board to work on (we'll start with the tough four letter words first): Sims, Baas. I told you they were tough! We will then increasingly move to MENSA level words: Heitmann, Zeigler.

I promise to not include former 49ers player: Babatunde Oshinowo. However, his roster replacement Chris Francies is fair game.

Awesome! Will it include Tony "Manderich?"

LINK!

You live by the sword, MD . . .

Originally posted by NineFourNiner:
Originally posted by MadDog49er:


P.S. I'll be hosting the first annual 49ers Webzone Spelling Bee soon. Some words for the board to work on (we'll start with the tough four letter words first): Sims, Baas. I told you they were tough! We will then increasingly move to MENSA level words: Heitmann, Zeigler.

I promise to not include former 49ers player: Babatunde Oshinowo. However, his roster replacement Chris Francies is fair game.

Awesome! Will it include Tony "Manderich?"

LINK!

You live by the sword, MD . . .


Originally posted by MadDog49er:
Only the ding-dongs hate Heitmann (even though he was the best lineman on the team last year), so it not even worthy putting on your review. I'd edit that right out.

You might want to include some of the backups fighting for a spot on the team. How about:
1) Barry Sims- with one M. Possibly the most evil person to put on a Niners jersey since Derek Smith or Kwame Harris. Only a handful of terrible people think he will make the team, including MD. Yikes!! Run for the hills!!

2) Alex Boone- One of the greatest players in the modern NFL. Future starter and ten time Pro-Bowler.

3) Jacob Bender- Would be a much better player if he changed his name to Zeigler or Clayton or Lelie. Unfortunately, he stubbornly insists on keeping his current name.

Cheers.

P.S. I'll be hosting the first annual 49ers Webzone Spelling Bee soon. Some words for the board to work on (we'll start with the tough four letter words first): Sims, Baas. I told you they were tough! We will then increasingly move to MENSA level words: Heitmann, Zeigler.

I promise to not include former 49ers player: Babatunde Oshinowo. However, his roster replacement Chris Francies is fair game.

MD, what's up with the Boone Bashing? I thoght you'd have more love for the buckeye. And do you really like Simmms? Or just trying to contrast the board?
Originally posted by RollinWith21n52:
This line will succeed and fail on consistency. The good news is that we have 4 spots set, with solid to very good players, who have been together for some time, and will be in the prime of their careers at around the same time. The bad news is that there isn't a superstar in the group yet, and for the exception of Chilo, there might not be anyone with superstar potential (all though Staley could be very very good). If the transition of our future LG is made mostly seamlessly, and injuries don't offset the flow of things, I think this line can gel in much the same way the Giant's line did. This is a group built for run blocking, and will be asked to do just that. Bring in the Martz 7-step drop and this line will fail horribly, but ask them to manage a power running offense, and they may just be able to excel.

Good assessment! I do disagree somewhat about Baas b/c I think he is still adjusting to the left side after playing very well initially at RG. He is very strong and loves getting to the second level.

And while it appears we're set at 4 of the 5 positions, I'm not so sure. One key measure of success is how they perform in short yardage (esp. close to the goal line) and frankly, we are terrible in this area. Pass protection has also been an achilles for us as well. When I watched the Patriots first pre-season game with Tom Brady back from a ripped up knee, I did not see one defender get within 10 feet of him. Our o-line is often times a sift and our QB's are forced to run and scramble and improvise. I think you are STILL seeing the effects of a jail-break o-line with Alex Smith to this very day. I also think our coaches recognize this as well and have employed the 3-second clock and have focused on a power running game, trying to play to our strengths.

I think we may be one or two dominant FA linemen away from having the o-line we truly need in order to dominate in short yardage, protect the QB and allow him to read through all his progressions confidently and take over a game in the 4th quarter.

Can these young guys gel and grow into a dominant o-line? Let's hope so!